Panel rejects gun-show loophole#8217; By Mary Boyd/Contributing Writer/ 01/29/2008 RICHMOND-The gun-control debate continues at the General Assembly. Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond,

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2008

RICHMOND-The gun-control debate continues at the General Assembly.

Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 109, known as the “Gun-Show Loophole” bill. The bill defines the terms &uot;firearms-show vendor&uot; and &uot;promoter&uot; and requires criminal background checks when firearm transfers occur at gun shows.

Marsh is confident the legislation will pass Wednesday in the Senate’s Court of Justice Committee.

“If our bill gets out of the Senate it will go over to the House, and I think they’ll give it a fair hearing,” Marsh said.

The House panel voted 15-7 Friday against similar legislation requiring criminal background checks on Virginians who want to purchase firearms at gun shows.

The committee held a hearing on two measures: House Bill 592, sponsored by Del. Dave W. Marsden, D-Burke, and House Bill 745, sponsored by Del. C. Charles Caputo, D-Chantilly.

The vote by the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee fell largely along party lines. Two Democrats and 13 Republicans voted to “pass by indefinitely” the proposal. Seven Democrats, including Del. Bill Barlow of Smithfield, voted against the motion.

Marsh said the purpose of SB 109 is to close the loophole.

“This bill will stop a large number of illegal guns from getting into the hands of people who by law are not supposed to have them,” Marsh said.

Marsh also said the bill is supported by state police, all local police departments, sheriff’s departments and people who are concerned about the shootings at Virginia Tech and about similar incidents on academic campuses.

Parents and relatives of victims of the Virginia Tech shootings continue to urge legislators to close gun-show loopholes. Federally licensed gun dealers must conduct criminal background checks on buyers—but that requirement does not apply to gun-show vendors.

Opponents say the proposed regulations are misguided because the Virginia Tech shooter did not buy his weapons at a gun show.

Virginia Tech parents spoke at the meeting in support of the legislation.

Lori Haas of Henrico County is a parent of a student who survived the Virginia Tech shootings.

“The meeting was eye-opening,” Haas said. “I think that there were many, many committee members here today that had a pre-determined agenda. They had already determined their vote. They had already decided the issue without listening.”

Representatives of the Virginia Center for Public Safety and the Virginia State Police also spoke in support of gun-show background checks.

The House committee first combined the two bills by voice vote. The panel then voted to reject the combined bill and adjourned.

Mary Boyd is a Virginia Commonwealth University student and a reporter for Capital News Service.